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The purpose of the retrospective session is to help teams to continuously improve their processes and work habits. Do not think of the retrospective as a post-mortem but rather as a session during which to identify one point of improvement that the team can act on in the very next iteration.


Mapping Retrospective

From The Art of Agile Development: Retrospectives.

  1. Share the Prime Directive: Everybody makes mistakes. We will continue to make mistakes, and on occasion, we will repeat mistakes. The retrospective is an opportunity to learn and improve.
  2. Hand out post-it notes and markers. Write the following headings on the whiteboard:
    - Productive and Enjoyable
    - Frustrating
    - Confusing
    - Keep this the Same
    - Do More of This
    - Do Less of This
    - New Ideas (Not in the original article; I added this one. - rtp)
  3. Team members write down what events in the recent iteration fall under these different columns. Once a team member has written down an event, the team member reads it aloud and posts it under a column. There is no need to have an item in under each column, and there is no limit to the number of items under a column.  Items out of the team's control are fair game to list here. 
  4. Affinity Mapping -- Everyone goes to the board and moves cards around. This exercise should take about 10 minutes.
    - Put related cards close together.
    - Put unrelated cards far apart.
    - No talking. If people disagree on where to place a card, they need to work out a compromise without speaking.
  5. Each grouping of post-its on the board is a category. Ask the team to identify these categories. Place a post-it label with the category above each grouping, or circle the grouping (if it's on a white board) and write the label next to it.
  6. Vote -- using checkmarks on the white board or label card -- on which category(ies) to improve in the next iteration. If it's a small team, you can give each member two votes.
  7. One category should be the clear winner. If not, don't waste time; flip a coin. That's the category to work on improving next time. Discard the rest of the cards.
  8. You can then vote on a single post-it within the category, or brainstorm ideas for improvement on that category. Write your ideas on the board. Half a dozen will suffice, and they don't need to be too detailed.
  9. Vote on the single best idea. Pick just one. This will help keep you focused.
  10. This final vote is your Retrospective Objective. The Retrospective Objective is the goal that the team will work towards during the next iteration.
  11. Figure out how to keep track of the objective, and who should work out the details. Make sure someone is responsible for following through on the objective, that is, remind people when appropriate.
  12. To help ensure follow-through, make the Retrospective Objective part of the next iteration. Don't forget the Exit Criteria.

See the article for ideas on how to troubleshoot if you are coming up with Retrospective Objectives, but the team is still not improving in these areas.


Simple Q & A Retrospective

From Lean-Agile Pocket Guide for Scrum Teams.

  1. Present the following questions to the team:
    - Did we meet the iteration goals?
    - What were our successes?
    - What processes/techniques should we use again?
    - What could have gone better? What processes, techniques need to be improved?
    - How is the team adjusting? Is the team raising impediments--if so, what?
    - What blockers are present?
    - On a scale of 1-10, what is the score of this iteration?
    - How is the overall project -- all of WebLion's work -- progressing?
    - Other observations?
  2. Summarize what the team has learned and carry these lessons into the Iteration Planning session.
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